A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A Strawberry Daiquiri For A Sad Birthday
Friday, August 31, 2007

Today is my birthday. Of my birthdays I have written this. There is not much more than I can add. Except that I remember one of my saddest.

At the time we were living in Burnaby and Rosemary had gone back east to Brockville to visit her parents. It was August 31st at night and I was in bed feeling pretty sorry for myself. I called my friends in the hopes that they might just remember and wish me a happy one. None of my friends were home so in my final fruitless call I sang myself a happy birthday on my friend's answering machine. I then decided that I was going to be happy. I knew I had a bottle of rum. I had fresh lemons and strawberries in the fridge. I made myself a very large strawberry daiquiri with the blender. Now I don't really drink, not even beer. So soon, very soon I felt like I was levitating on the bed. I was in a very friendly stupor when I heard the door open and Rosemary said, "I am home, happy birthday." Of course when she saw in what state I was she was pretty angry and I sobered up very quickly to no avail.

Rummaging through one of our picture tins I found a few photographs of our past in Vancouver. There is one in our sky blue VW which I took somewhere on our way to Vancouver from Mexico City. The tarp on the roof was orange. There is a picture of the family in Spanish Banks. By then (around 30 years ago) I decided that my Basque blood and my mother's surname (de Irureta Goyena) gave me the credibility and right to wear a Basque boina. After a year of suffering a constant itch around my forehead I decided I could try to be an artist without one.

But I did not give it up until Rosemary snapped a picture of me with it on. Notice my new-fangled pyrolitic carbon pipe (the rest of it was made of hard rubber). We played tourists those first months and I took pictures in all the predictable places as this one of Hilary in Lumberman's Arch.

The colour photograph is one of the first self-portraits that I took(always on my birthday in a tradition of sorts)with a brand new Polaroid back for my Mamiya RB-Pro S.

I remember showing Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling that monster of a camera. He did not know what to say. A few weeks later he called me up and and said, "You know that big camera you showed me? I think that I have this job where ......."

Vancouver has been kind to me and my family and even though I really don't have much to gripe about on my birthdays, it's fun feeling sorry for myself. There are no strawberries in the fridge and no bottle of rum is stashed away. I am instantly happy just remembering this last picture I took last week in Lillooet. We are all there except for Hilary. I am seeing Hilary today (and Lauren and Rebecca). What could possibly be better than that?


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